THE ALLIANCE FOR A NEW IRAN (ABAN)
Iran is on the brink of a sociopolitical explosion. The Islamic Republic arose from out of a populist revolution for a free and independent nation with a just society. Unfortunately, a clique of clergymen almost immediately derailed the revolution with their religious prejudice, monopolization, foreign interventionism, and violent suppression of dissent. Consequently, Iran has remained decades behind nations that it once surpassed in terms of development, such as South Korea. A majority of Iranians no longer want to live under this religious regime, which has suppressed their legitimate demands and denied them the progress that they deserve on account of their glorious cultural heritage and the country’s rich resources.
The Alliance for a New Iran (ABAN) is a socio-political organization based on the novel idea of mellat-garâi or “Nation-ism.” The goal of ABAN is to build a New Iran by organizing Iranians inside and outside the country around this idea. “Nationism” is an idea that enfolds within itself the inseparable dimension of the Iranian people, their land, cultural history, political state, and geopolitical position. A “Nationist” is an individual who sincerely strives to enhance all of these five dimensions for the sake of building a New Iran.
Iranian Nationists encourage the cooperation of non-Iranians in the achievement of this aim, albeit with regard for the maintenance of Iran’s national sovereignty. The political independence of ABAN from any and all foreign governments is a steadfast principle of our organization. Preservation of the territorial integrity of the country, the unity of Iran as a nation, Persian as the national language of Iran, and social justice for all Iranians, are among the non-negotiable principles of ABAN Nationists. The basis for strategic alliance of forces seeking a New Iran is the acceptance of ABAN’s organizational bylaws and leadership structure.
The Founder of ABAN
The Alliance for a New Iran (ABAN) and its core idea of “Nationism” is the brainchild of Dr. Hooshang Amirahmadi. A Cornel University PhD in International Development and Planning, and Professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, Dr. Amirahmadi was the Founder and President of the American Iranian Council and a candidate for the presidency of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Dr. Amirahmadi founded and served as the Director of Rutgers University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies. The author of numerous books and articles, he has received worldwide recognition as an expert on Iranian affairs whose reflections have received international media and press coverage from CNN, FOX, BBC, ABC, PBS, VOA, The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Wall Street Journal.
Several competitive fellowships and distinguished public and private foundations have conferred grants upon Dr. Amirahmadi, including the US Department of Education, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Open Society Institute. He has also served as a consultant for the United Nations Development Program, the Aga Khan Foundation, the World Bank, and several governments.
The Five Dimensions of ABAN’s “Nationism”
Contemporary Iran has been a laboratory for experiments with many political ideas. The five that played a particularly prominent role are Constitutionalism, Iranism, Socialism, Nationalism, and Islamism. Unfortunately, none of these ideas was able to build a New Iran on its own, and the efforts that each of them made in this direction miscarried. Besides their particular merits and drawbacks, these ideas each have a burdensome past that they cannot disown and that prohibits them from serving as the foundation for building a New Iran. Consequently, members of ABAN are in need of a new idea, namely the “Nationism” that is being suggested here.
The most important point that renders Nationism distinct from both the ideas of the past and those current within the political opposition of Iran is its power to integrate these ideas. In other words, in Nationism, the dimensions of the people, their land, cultural history, political state, and geopolitical position are not separate components. Rather, they are five interpenetrating dimensions.
It is impossible to build a New Iran without building new Iranians. The Iranian people consist of three social classes, namely the working class, the middle class, and capital-holding class, as well as a variety of special interest groups such as women, the youth, teachers, government workers, immigrants, religious minorities, disabled people, the clergy, and military men. In addition to the increasingly acute economic problems facing the three main social classes, some of these groups face particular types of discrimination. Neo-liberal economists who want to immediately subject Iran to the chaos of market forces disregard the fact that no recently developed country fully privatized its economy in the initial stages of development. China, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, and India were all able to undergo development only with their government manning the levers of the economy. Their entrance into the world market was in stages and began with the increase of the competitive strength of domestic producers. The state’s role in development of exports and restriction of imports was also determinative. None of this is meant to suggest a wholly state controlled economy. Rather, the protection of private property, the encouragement of a culture of healthy competition, and a relentless struggle against monopoly and bribery, are all key to meeting people’s needs and wants.
The environmental crises facing the land of Iran are really lethal. These include severe air pollution in major cities, drought-stricken lakes, lagoons, and rivers, deforestation, ruinous use of the nation’s mines, and damage to farming on account of the squandering of sub-surface water. The public health situation has become hazardous due to the lack of management of both human and industrial waste products. ABAN considers preservation of the water, soil, forests, and natural resources of the country to be among its chief priorities. Insofar as proper infrastructural development not only contributes to industry, but is vital to addressing the environmental problems facing the country, ABAN’s program for the period immediately following the transition will also include significant environmentally-friendly construction projects to enhance Iran’s infrastructure.
No country has undergone development under conditions of cultural collapse and when lacking a sense of its historical identity. Countries that have fallen into such a state are actually doomed to annihilation. Islamic Republic broadcasting has been derelict in reviving and propagating positive values from the Pre-Islamic history of Iran. Instead, we see a valorization of sorrow and mourning, and a promotion of superstition, delusion, the sowing of enmity, extremism, intolerance, fanaticism, and bigotry. Education of thought, support for literature and the arts, revitalization of history and the restoration of ancient monuments and other landmark buildings, has the biggest role to play. The tourism industry can function as the driving motor of this culture and history. This in turn requires reasonable relations with the world within the parameters of national interests.
The political state of the New Iran will, above all, be based on the principle of citizenship, the equality of all citizens, and an end to discrimination amongst them on any basis. We ABANists will not compromise on this principle, and we shall not rest until Iranians of all social classes and from all particular groups of society have secured their legitimate rights. This begins with freeing political prisoners and those incarcerated for their beliefs. It demands the separation of religion from the state through a revision of the constitution, which divests the clergy of sovereign authority and recognizes the sovereignty of the Iranian people. Among the key reforms to the constitution is dissolution of the Guardian Council. Instead of theocratic vetting, free elections ought to determine who serves in the executive and legislative branches of government. The judiciary must be purged of clergymen, and a civilian who has the approval of the people should be placed at the head of that branch of government. The new judiciary must help to ensure respect for personal and social freedoms enshrined in the new constitution, including freedom of speech, freedom of the press, of dress, of gatherings and parties. The state will also emphasize peaceful international relations.
Iran’s geopolitical position has been compromised by a crisis in the foreign policy of the Islamic Republic, which is caused by its constitutional mandate to export the Islamic revolution and support all of the world’s downtrodden and oppressed Muslims. This has compromised the independence of the country and diminished its position on the world stage. Dollarization of the economy, signing the nuclear deal, and capitulation to the Caspian Sea convention are examples of the decline of national sovereignty. A strong Iran has always been a stable and peace-loving Iran. Toward the end of building a New Iran, Nationists must also take every opportunity to strive for international cooperation and peace between countries. Empowering Iran and increasing the nation’s ability to act authoritatively must be an ideal that is developmentally compatible with the sustainability of the country. ABAN plans to fully normalize Iran’s diplomatic and trade relations with the United States and Israel within the first 100 days of its transitional government.
Securing a Rapid Transition to a New Iran
We believe that building a New Iran begins with the dignified departure of the clergy from power. We insist on this departure for the sake of both Iran and Islam. Foreign-based Iranian “opposition” groups all suffer from at least one of three major fatal flaws that disqualify them from being able to responsibly guide a transition out of the theocratic regime. The call for a mass revolution with no aim other than holding a free for all “referendum” under conditions of social chaos and political upheaval is totally irresponsible. It endangers the nation’s territorial integrity, and given Iran’s strategic position, this in turn risks compromising the long-term security of the entire region. The call for a violent purge of all elements of the present political establishment is even more reckless and threatens to unleash an unending spiral of political vengeance that ultimately destroys the social fabric of Iran and denies the country the stability for economic and cultural development. Some opposition groups even go so far as to endorse “overthrow” of the present regime by means of direct foreign military intervention, on the model of Iraq and Syria. Aside from the fact that this is treason, when considered from an Iranian standpoint, it would also be catastrophically costly for the countries whose armed intervention is being invited by these traitors.
Despite the extreme schisms that divide foreign-based “opposition” groups to the Islamic Republic, they are united in mistakenly considering everyone who works with the country’s governing elite as part of the “regime.” On account of this misunderstanding, the opposition has alienated massive Iranian-Islamic forces that it could harness – including and especially military men and Islamic forces that are more patriotic, i.e. Religious Nationalists. The rejection of political revenge under a transitional leadership structure, on the part of the members of ABAN, must be a strong incentive for the peaceful departure of the rulers from political power and their return to civil society.
Unlike other options, ABAN’s proposed plan for a multi-phased transition beyond the present rulers, does not primarily or necessarily entail “enmity” with these rulers and their followers – including military men. On the contrary, and up to the extent possible, ABAN wants these rulers to be afforded a “dignified” exit and be replaced by representatives of the people or, in the event that this does not succeed, with military men and populist elites. What is meant here by “populist elites” are technocrats, intellectual statesmen, and thought-leaders with a populist bent and the charisma to connect with masses of people. This populist elite includes individuals whose zealous and heartfelt devotion to the original ideals of the revolution has been betrayed time and time again by the corrupt clergymen and mafias that have consolidated control over the Islamic Republic. By inviting their participation in the transition process, ABAN can convince these revolutionaries to break with the clerical power structure and seek the realization of their ideals by riding the wave of patriotic populism that is now sweeping Iran.
As populist opposition to the regime has intensified in recent years, the Islamic Republic has become more dependent on the military and security forces for the sake of its own survival. A military revolt may be the least costly option for transition out of an unreasonable regime, and one that meets all of the following conditions:
- Seeing through the transition under conditions of security.
- Having a significant chance of success (i.e. being practicable).
- Coming to pass with the least possible cost in blood and treasure.
- Reaching its conclusion rapidly.
- Being constructive after the transition.
Some military revolts have been quite constructive. For example, the 1974 coup d’état in Portugal that is known as “the flower cloves revolution”, and the military revolts of Reza Shah in Iran and Kamal Atatürk in Turkey. Military men are usually patriots and modernizing men of action. The best of them are also inclined toward development, since military forces are inherently concerned with technical modernization and attendant industrial development. The most fundamental precondition for our supporting a military revolt is the alignment of the military men involved with the populist elite of the country.
Tactical acceptance of the revolt, and entrance into leadership of it, would be a patriotic and constructive course of action on the part of the elite. After being freed from dependence on the present rulers, the military men will necessarily become dependent on the populist elite. One can even imagine them voluntarily relinquishing power to representatives of the people’s elite and, as the people’s army, concern themselves with providing security and order to a society that has undergone implosion. In other words, even if a military revolt follows it, dignified expulsion of the rulers in the first stage can make way for a powerful entrance on the part of the populist elite in the subsequent stage.
It is certainly conceivable that after dismissing the religious rulers military men might want to hold on to power and be in control without the participation of the political elite. In such a situation, where they decide to move in the direction of a military dictatorship, a working class uprising will materialize and return the country to a state of political upheaval. While supporting this spontaneous uprising, ABAN would guide it in the direction of non-violence. The leaders of ABAN would also try to open a dialogue and initiate negotiations between the military forces and the populist elite of the country with a view to bringing about a unified, patriotic power structure. At the same time, a populist uprising with the backing of the elite will put military men under pressure to accept a compromise. It is in the interest of both the military and the country to preempt a vast and uncontrolled revolution of the masses. That would also be in the interest of foreign investors whose faith in the economic and industrial development of the country will play a key role in the transition out of the Islamic Republic and into a New Iran.
Investing in a New Iran
Now is the time for commitment from international business interests who want to benefit from a secure transition to a stable, New Iran. This is especially so in the case of foreign investors who have been excluded from the country by 40 years of ideological extremism. It is worth repeating that in the face of the imminent collapse or overthrow of the Islamic Republic, the threats to safe foreign investment in Iran are considerable. Deferring to exiled Iranian “opposition” groups runs the risk of a free for all revolution leading to a referendum election under chaotic conditions, with no foreseeable or trustworthy outcome, the potential for violent political vengeance and a settling of scores spiraling out of control, or even the catastrophic prospect of foreign military intervention leading to a protracted regional war. ABAN’s phased transition plan can prevent all this. We have the intra-regime contacts and domestic legitimacy to secure a disciplined and orderly transition out of the theocratic regime, while normalizing international relations.
However, no undertaking on this scale is possible without sufficient material resources. We seek a capital infusion from private interests in the amount of $1,556,000, which will be allocated in the manner outlined by the following budget. The leadership of ABAN is confident that these private interests will benefit from a tremendous return on their investment in the form of a stable and development-oriented Iran of the very near future, an Iran with a constructive and key role to play in geopolitics and the world economy.
Estimated Amount (US $)
1. New York City Office 36,000
2. Washington DC Office 36,000
3. London Office 36,000
4. Travel and Accommodations 80,000
5. Social Media
6. Sociological Analysis and Psychological Operations 372,000
7. Courting International Media Coverage 36,000
8. Coverage on Existing Iranian TV Channels 240,000
9. Independent Broadcasting
Internet TV 30,000
Satellite TV 210,000
Program Production 72,000
10. Field Operations (Inside Iran) 210,000
11. Intra-Regime Contacts and Transition Facilitation 150,000